Journey Time: By road 6 hours
How to reach there: KSRTC runs regular buses from both Bangalore and Mangalore. Also, one can take a bus from Kukke Subrahmanya. Bus services are pretty good.
Where to stay: Guest houses of the temple trust like Ganga, cauvery, Netravathi and Sharavathy(08256 – 317121-22), Yoga and Nature cure hospital(08256 – 317177) – you can stay here only if you would like to avail treatment in yoga, acupuncture etc.
Where to eat: The temple provides free lunch and dinner. However, there are few small hotels around where you can have food(typically local food).
Dharmasthala entrance gate view from inside
Dharmasthala is perhaps the most highly revered and best known temple town in Karnataka. This holy place is the home of the Sri Manjunatheshwara Temple, where devotees of all castes and creeds visit. The temple is devoted to Shiva and houses a lingam of gold. The temple is unusual in that it is run by a Jain administration and poojas are conducted by Madhva priests. Everyone enjoys the generous hospitality without any distinction of caste, creed or class whatsoever. On an average the flow of pilgrims is about 10,000 people a day. A mechanised and clean kitchen provides free food for all pilgrims. There are guest houses with modern amenities.The temple is unique example of unity in diversity.
It has been told in Dharmasthala that the Shiva Lingam in Dharmasthala was brought to Dharmasthala by a man named Annappa. Legend is that he used to work for the Heggade family. Once when the Heggade he was serving wanted to worship Lord Shiva, Annappa had assured him to get one lingam and vanished from the sight. Surprisingly next day morning, by the time all woke up, he had already established the lingam in Dharmasthala, a few metres away from Heggade’s house.
Later it was known that the Lingam was from Kadri near Mangalore, from the Kadri temple. By then, Annappa had vanished and he was never again sighted in the vicinity. Now people in Dharmasthala worship Annappa as Annappa Panjurli, a local god deva and a hero.
The average flow of pilgrims is about 10,000 people everyday. Every one of the thousands of pilgrims who daily visit shri Kshetra Dharmasthala is an honored guest irrespective of caste, creed, culture or status.The “Anna Daana”[free food] is perhaps one of the most impressive events that takes place at the holy temple. Free food is provided to devotees who come in thousands every day. The temple has modern machinery and makes quality food continuously through out the day. Temple does not differentiate between the rich and the poor for the Anna Dhaana.The dining hall is known as “Annapoorna”.
Shri Kshetra Dharmasthala by the SDMCET Society manages a 25 institutions ranging from primary schools, Gurukula to teach yoga, Sanskrit, and professional courses in Engineering, Medicine, and Dental Sciences in Dharmasthala, Ujire, Mangalore, Udupi, Dharwad and other places of Karnataka state.
The Siddavana gurukula started by the Late Manjayya Heggade has become a model educational institution. Over 250 students are provided free lodging and boarding and learn yoga, Sanskrit in addition to basic school curriculum. The specialty of this institution is its endeavor to teach values based on Indian Culture.
In the field of health care, the medical trust also provides services to eradicate and prevent many diseases in local villages. The mobile hospital established by poojya shri Heggade is fully equipped to deal with emergencies and to provide medical treatment to the rural folk in remote parts of the Malnad area. A modern tuberculosis sanitorium was built by Dharmasthala Manjunatheswara Medical Trust to give relief to the patients of tuberculosis. It has since been converted into a general hospital. The Ayurvedic Hospitals at Udupi and Hassan provide Ayurvedic medicines as per the ancient text. The Nature Cure Hospital, built on the banks of the Netravathi River, uses a system based on the five elements of Air, Earth, Ether, Water and Light.
SDM Eye Hospital at Mangalore, is a modern scientific eye treatment centre. The SDM Dental Hospital serves regular dental needs and provides specialised treatments such as oral implants, surgery for cleft lip and other orthodontic surgeries.
Shri Heggade has been actively involved in propagating the practice of Yoga, the ancient system of fitness. Surya Namaskara Camps are regularly organised where Yoga is taught. Further 250 high school teachers are trained in Yoga every year, who in turn teach at least 100 students each.
Free mass weddings which were started in 1972 have gained popularity. Every year hundreds of couples are getting married (Saamoohika Vivaha mahotsava) here. Following the tradition of the Kshetra where all religions and castes are welcome, hundreds of couples are married in accordance with their personal religious rite. The expenses of the wedding dress, Mangalsutra and Wedding feast for a limited number of the couple’s guests are borne by the Kshetra.
The present head of Dharmasthala, Padmashri Dr. Veerendra Heggade, the 21st in succession to the Dharmadhikari Peetha, has lived up to the great tradition. He has not only continued to uphold the sacred tradition, but carried out his ancestral heritage to a greater height. In doing so he has also achieved remarkable progress in his service to mankind. For over 25 years, Sri Veerendra Heggade has endeared himself by dedicating himself to the service of God and man in religious, cultural and educational fields. He has launched several socio-economic programmes, which have directly benefited the poor. Free mass weddings which were started in 1973 have gained immense popularity over the years. This is a boon to those poor people who cannot afford weddings on their own.
More than 25 institutions from primary schools to professional colleges are run in and around Dharmasthala . Old and decrepit temples have been renovated, taking care to preserve the traditional architecture. Ancient manuscripts and paintings have been painstakingly restored and preserved for posterity. A museum of beautiful antique objects, which is both educative and fascinating, has been established. A car museum houses a rare collection of vintage cars. Every year, a Sarva Dharma Sammelan (multi religious meet) is held at Dharmasthala, which attracts spiritual leaders from various faiths and schools, and patrons of art and literature, from far and wide.
This is also among of the few pilgrim centers in India which provides free boarding and lodging to all the visiting devotees. The exponentially increasing number of visitors is a proof of the good work being done here.
Lord Manjunath temple inner view
It is a very serene place and could be a good place for one day stay. Take bath in the Netravathi river and then go for darshan of Lord Manjunath. Evenings and weekends may have more rush, it may be wise to try weekday mornings. Also, remember, if you are traveling by public bus, the last bus out from Dharmasthala is at 8.30 pm. The bus stand is very much within the Ksetra.
In 1973 a statue of Lord Bahubali carved out of a single rock, was installed at Dharmasthala on a low hill near the Manjunatha temple. It was about 39 foot (12 m) high and weighed about 170 tonnes.
Car Museum: Little away from the main temple, is a car museum with various vintage cars, all in running condition. Among are a Daimler Double Six(1949) owned by King of Mysore Sri Jayachamarejendra Wodeyer. Timmings: 9 am – 1 pm and 2.30 pm – 6 pm
Manjusha Art Museum: This may look little shabby from outside but has invaluable collection of knowledge dating even to pre-histroric age.
To view more pictures, click here.
Links to useful websites:
- Second Visit to Kukke Subramanya and Dharmasthala
- Parsuram Kshetra, Kumbalgarh, Rajasthan
- Art of Living Ashram, Bangalore
- Kukke Subrahmanya
- Dakshina Kannada, Karnataka